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    June 10, 2020
    13 minute read

    How to Structure a Remote Ecommerce Team to Boost Operational Efficiency

    by: Christian Hassold

    Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, teams across all industries have been mandated to work remotely, many of whom are doing so for the first time. Ecommerce teams have had enough to worry about — whether that was ever-changing retailer requirements, evolving algorithms, or siloed cross-functional processes. 

    And now with COVID ravaging the world economy, ecommerce teams also have to work through sudden drops or spikes in demand while balancing the personal impacts of a pandemic. 

    Teams new to remote working are still finding their footing and it’s critical for brand leaders to empathise with their employees that they are not simply working from home, but they’re doing so while grappling with an unprecedented world epidemic encapsulating our lives. 

    Guiding a successful ecommerce team during a global crisis requires that employee health and livelihoods remain top priority. Brands also must make a holistic examination of their processes to diagnose any problems or setbacks in operational efficiency and implement changes to correct course.

    Employee Health and Wellbeing Must Come First

    From the beginning of the pandemic, shoppers swiftly defined food, drink, alcohol, beauty, health, and home categories as essential, increasing overall global digital revenue at the beginning of the pandemic from 12% to 20% YoY, according to Salesforce data. 

    An unprecedented boost in demand must have added tension to employees’ personal stress during a global pandemic. 

    The first thing brand leaders must do is check in with your teams. Ask how they’re doing. Ask how their families are. Some of your employees may be struggling while others may be more steadfast, remember that everyone is handling the situation uniquely. Provide support that each individual needs instead of a blanketed system that doesn’t fit everyone’s lifestyle. 

    Work With Your Team to Identify Pain Points

    Work together with your team members and your retail partners to overcome operational hurdles. While working remotely, or at any time for that matter, has your ecommerce team: 

    • Struggled to communicate with other teams?
    • Felt siloed from other departments? 
    • Found challenges in remotely accessing or updating product information?
    • Been stunted by outdated files and spreadsheets?
    • Lagged time-to-market because product info required work from multiple departments?

    Remote work is likely exposing and aggravating inefficiencies that already existed in your teams, tools, and processes. 

    Salsify’s Product Experience Management (PXM) platform empowers your team through increased flexibility, speed, and agility, all of which streamline your go-to-market process. Empowering them with a centralised platform can help them eliminate the most habitual ecommerce challenges, improve cross-functional collaboration, and face evolving consumer demand. 

    5 Tips for Structuring a Successful Remote Ecommerce Team

    1. Have the Right Players in Place

    Each team is different and the number of roles that make up your ecommerce team will vary. At minimum, these five roles are essential for maintaining ecommerce health and success whether your team is remote or in the office. These roles define, maintain, and execute your team’s strategy.

    • Director of ecommerce: This team member will guide the team in executing goals and navigating the pandemic fallout.
    • Ecommerce program manager: This team member will act as the project manager, keeping essential schedules and processes in order and ensuring retailers are giving and receiving crucial information. 
    • Creative and marketing: These team members will create high-quality, engaging content for all omnichannel platforms and establish and execute marketing campaigns.
    • Ecommerce business analyst: This team member will monitor and communicate objective key results (OKRs), key performance indicators (KPIs), and competitive benchmarks.
    • Tech and IT: These team members will ensure that the site architecture, ecommerce software, and technology operations are developed, implemented, and operating smoothly. 

    2. Ensure Systems Allow for Remote Work

    Establish security protocols to ensure teams are working securely. Analyse whether it’s safe for secure accounts to be accessed on public computers or WiFi. Identify any team members in need of computers, headphones, video conferencing capabilities, and a reliable internet connection. 

    Without the right tools and processes in place, your team won’t be up to par. Be sure your team can ensure operational efficiency and streamlined cross-functional collaboration. It is absolutely crucial for an ecommerce team to be capable of updating product content from any location. 

    3. Define Roles and Workflows Clearly

    It’s never too late to outline your roles’ duties and responsibilities. Team members might be feeling directionless right now or unsure of the correct path forward. Steer them back to the best course by clarifying the importance and purpose of their functions.

    The Telegraph recommends,You need to have very clear contractual models in place for remote working. These can be based on time, outputs, engagement, results – but ensure everyone knows what the deal is.” It’s increasingly crucial to make sure that your team knows expectations. 

    It’s important for your employees to know when they are expected to work or when they’re able to have flex hours. Determine which communication software you’ll implement for meetings and work-related discussions. Everybody should be crystal clear on the workflow and where they fit into it. 

    4. Combine Flexibility with Accountability in Managing Remote Workers

    It’s important to recognise that everybody in your organisation wants to work and is figuring out their process to do so in an entirely new world. Trust your employees that their work is being completed well and address any issues or mishaps as they arise. 

    It’s more important than ever to communicate with your team members, but that still doesn’t mean micromanaging. Establish priorities and processes you expect them to accomplish in a timeframe that’s appropriate. And in a remote world, creative ways to motivate your teammates is imperative. 

    Working through a cloud-based system means your work can be done anywhere, anytime, with complete flexibility. It creates a flexible work environment and during a pandemic, is more important than ever. 

    5. Encourage a Work-Life Balance When Everyone’s Home

    When you’re home 24 hours a day, it’s easy to fall out of a healthy work-life balance. While some teammates struggle to remain motivated or find understandable distractions at home, many will have the desire and the ability to work from dawn until dusk. Managers must set clear expectations and working hours, and encourage proper eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. Emphasise that taking breaks was permitted (and necessary) in the office and that remains true at home. 

    Be cognisant of the number of meetings your team has on schedule. Remote work is quite different now than it was; everyone — kids, pets, spouses, flatmates, you name it — is home and your employees may need solid chunks of time to manage personal responsibilities. Refrain from packing calendars and look for new ways to communicate important messages without needing extensive time for meetings. 

    This is new to just about everyone — everyone is forging their own path through unchartered territory. Anyone can burn out, anyone can overwork, and anyone can need proper support. 

    Be the leader that establishes healthy practices, a powerful support network, and clear expectations and you’ll find that building your remote ecommerce team can be just as impactful as when you were in the office. 

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